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Thursday, December 29, 2011

NEWS: Green infrastructure projects will sprout in 2012

As part of its plan to reduce the amount raw sewage entering local waterways, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District submitted its green infrastructure plan [PDF] to the United States Environmental Protection Agency yesterday.

The plan is a component of the Project Clean Lake consent decree signed between the Sewer District and the federal government which details the long-term program for reducing combined sewer overflows into the environment. The $3 billion 25-year program will reduce the total volume of combined sewer overflows from 4.5 billion gallons to 494 million gallons annually. Of the 4.5 billion gallons, 44 million gallons will be reduced through the use of green infrastructure.

The Plain Dealer featured a story on the program and its potential today.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

RATES: Changes effective Jan. 1

On January 1, 2012, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's rates and billing structure is changing. Here is a summary to help you better understand the changes.

No more minimum charge
Before 2012, users were charged a for 1,000 cubic feet of water (1 MCF, or 7,480 gallons) of water consumption, even if their actual usage was lower. This year, that minimum charge is eliminated and replaced by a base charge of $5.85, which means those who use less than 1 MCF per quarter initially will see a decrease in their sewer bills. View the rate schedule

Higher Homestead discount
Increasing the Homestead Program rate reduction from 33% to 40%, which will assist low-income seniors and customers will disabilities. The income limit for Homestead applicants in 2012 will be $30,500. Read more

New Affordability program
We are adding a Wastewater Affordability Program to our cost-saving programs offerings to benefit those with income level at/below 200% Federal poverty level (e.g. Family of four < $44,700). Learn about all of our cost-saving programs | View all Affordability Program income limits

Crisis Assistance program coming in late 2012
We are designing a Crisis Assistance Program (e.g. Medical expenses, job loss) which will be detailed in late 2012.

To learn more about what to expect in your first bills of 2012, contact us or our Customer Service department at (216) 881-8247.

Friday, December 23, 2011

BEST OF: Top @neorsd stories of 2011

Customers, construction, communication, community, what made our list of top headlines in 2011? Here's what we posted, but let us know what you think we may have missed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

BEST OF: Wally's top tweets of 2011

When Wally Waterdrop posted his first tweet in 2009, we didn't know how we might use Twitter, or Facebook, or YouTube for our customers' benefit. Our top tweets reveal a few ways in which we hope our social media efforts made a difference. Check it out on Storify.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ASK US: "I shut off my water. Why do I have sewer charges?"

Our Ask Us! page recently received the following email from a customer who spends several months a year out west:
I spend the winter in Arizona. I shut my water off but I still have sewer charges. Is there any way of avoiding these charges since i'm not using my water for almost 8 months?
It's a good question. The direct answer is "No," but I'll quickly follow-up by saying, "but here's what we're doing..."

First, a bit of background: For most customers, we bill based on water-meter readings (water consumption, measured in MCF which is 1,000 cubic feet or 7,480 gallons) because most water entering the home eventually exits into a sewer. A typical customer account uses 1.875 MCF per quarter, or about 14,025 gallons of water. Many customers use less than 1 MCF per quarter, but through 2011, our accounting method has assessed accounts a 1 MCF minimum charge, even when the actual metered consumption was less than 7,480 gallons. We shared some of the reasons for the minimum charge during our 2011 series of public rate meetings.

That is changing January 1, 2012 to the benefit of many small users, and even for special circumstances like our Ask Us! emailer.

As we presented last spring, our fee structure is changing in 2012, replacing the 1 MCF minimum (about $30-50, depending on your community) with a $5.85 base fee plus the actual metered-consumption charge.

Here's an example.

A small user in Cleveland, based on .63 MCF over a three-month period in 2011, would be charged for a full 1 MCF, or $44 for the quarter. Starting next year, that same customer—based on the $5.85 charge and actual consumption charges—would pay $37 per quarter. The charges will be based on actual consumption, rather than the 1 MCF minimum.

And that example doesn't even take our expanded cost-saving programs into account.

The 1 MCF minimum charge had been a significant challenge for many customers. As we reviewed our rate options last year, eliminating this charge and instituting a base fee was an opportunity to serve our customers while enabling us to meet the funding challenges ahead.

Friday, December 2, 2011

ARCHIVES: "Detailed plan, 1902"

Scanned from a series of glass-plate slides from the early 1900s, this 1902 blueprint shows a schematic for a primary filter.